I’ve heard over and over. “You look like you’re doing better.” “Things will get better.” “Maybe if you do this ___ it will help you heal.” “It won’t always be this hard.” “It won’t always hurt this bad.”
I know you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. I get it. But let me just say. These comments hurt. Hear me out.
“You’re doing better.” What does that even mean? Do I have more color in my face? Are the bags under my eyes smaller? Do you know how well I slept last night? Do I cry less when I am around you? Did you see me smile? Am I thinking of Simon less? All of this is possible. You can’t see that my heart rate has skyrocketed. You can’t see that my breath is rapid. My breath is short. My brain is full of fear. I have anxiety that I have never experienced before. My hair falls out in clumps. Simon is the first thing I think of in the morning and the last thing I think of before I fall asleep. Better? What does better mean?
“Things will get better.” What does this even mean? Do you know when you say it? I can’t decide if it means that I will cry less often. Or if it means I will have less anxiety, something I don’t have any experience with. Or if it means that I’m capable of talking to strangers, something that used to come so naturally. Or does it mean I can start reaching out to people, something that I always was known to do. Or does it mean that I am no longer afraid of large groups of people? Or that I am no longer afraid of what someone is going to say? Or does it mean that I will not always miss Simon as much as I do now? I can tell you right now, that is not at all possible. NEVER. Does it mean that I will easily fight the urge to tell every pregnant women to be careful? That it isn’t always as blissful as it feels? Does it mean that I can hold an infant again and actually smile? Does it mean that hearing a baby cry when I never got to hear Simon’s cry will not bring tears to my eyes? What gets better?
“Maybe if you do this ___ it will help you heal.” Heal?? I don’t even know what that means. Do you? Does heal mean that I no longer miss my child? Does heal mean that I am keeping myself distracted enough that the tears stop coming? Believe me. I did so much at the beginning to try to make myself heal. I thought I could buy that light at the end of the tunnel. I bought an essential oils diffuser, I bought a million books, I bought tokens to remember Simon, I bought, I bought I bought. Have I healed? Hell no. All of these purchases were meant to help me heal before I really had an idea what that even looks like. I still don’t. This will help you “heal” implies that one day I will be healed. This will be done and forgotten about. Healed. The reality is, I will always be healing.
“It won’t always be this bad. It won’t always hurt this badly.” How do you know? What makes you say that? Do you have a crystal ball? How can you make that promise to anyone without knowing their deepest darkest thoughts? An empty promise. An empty promise that doesn’t honor my true feelings. A promise that doesn’t honor my love for Simon. My child. This is my child we are talking about! And a promise that doesn’t honor where I am in that moment. I won’t always cringe when I see a newborn? I won’t always cringe when I see a baby the same age as Simon would be? I won’t bawl on the day that Kindergarten starts and they are missing one student?
Our culture is so focused on happy endings. Not all stories end that way. There are people out there that love us so deeply and don’t want us to be broken. I get that. It is so hard to see people you love in pain. So hard. They want us healed. They want us fixed. You don’t fix this. Fixing this would mean Simon would be here cooing by my side, and I wouldn’t be spending my quiet time vulnerable writing or sharing my deepest thoughts. He is not coming back. This will not be fixed.
Back to the damned if you do, damned if you don’t. This all being said, PLEASE don’t be afraid to talk to us. Don’t be afraid to share your feelings with us. Don’t be afraid you will say the “wrong thing” so you don’t say anything at all. Remember, “better” to you, and “better” to me may look differently. “Healed” to you and “healed” to me may look differently. And if you had said those words to us, it’s okay. We know that you say it in kindness and in love. We can all learn how to be better at grief. Even us.
What can you do? Don’t forget about us. Don’t forget about Simon. Don’t forget that it doesn’t get fixed. Don’t forget that we are thinking about Simon all day, everyday. Don’t forget that silence is more painful than not having the right words. There are no right words. Remember that milestones are especially difficult. Forever. Remember those milestones. Holidays are especially difficult. Forever. Listen to us when we share. Read what we share. Comment on what we share. Let us know you are thinking about us. Send a text. Send an email. Send a note. Send a letter. Send a picture. Call. Don’t stop calling. If we don’t call back, don’t be offended. Call back. Reach out to us. Don’t ask what you can do, just do. Know that large groups are intimidating. Strangers are intimidating. Know that there are things that used to come so naturally to us that are now extremely difficult. They may sound like tiny things, easy things, but they are now enormous obstacles. If you invite us, and we say no, try again. If you invite us and we say yes, and then don’t show, don’t be offended. Try again. If you invite us, and we show up, give us a hug. Just showing up can be hard. Ask us how we are doing, and listen to the answer. Don’t be afraid to say Simon’s name. We love hearing his name. Don’t be afraid to share your grief with us. It helps us to know that we are not the only ones missing his sweet soul. It helps us to share those tears with others.
And please please please please please, don’t forget about Brett. Men grieve too. Brett also lost his child. Brett also had hopes and dreams for him. Brett also lost his future with Simon. Brett’s heart is just as broken as mine.
And to those of you that made it this far. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I love you! Reading these posts let’s me know that you care. And that you are here. Thank you.